Disease prevention through diet and lifestyle choices is gaining an increasing amount of support, Wakefield doctor Wayne Hurlow says, which was illustrated last week by two sold-out screenings of the award-winning health documentary The Big Fat Lie, complemented by panel discussions, in Mapua and Nelson.
Wayne was part of the panel at both venues, along with doctors Taisia Cech and Graham Evans, and the Ministry of Health’s former chief scientist, Professor John Potter. Wayne says that although modern medicine has come a long way and can achieve a lot when it comes to treating illness and disease, most of those diseases were preventable in the first place, including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and most forms of cancer.
There is an ever-growing body of evidence showing the benefits of moving towards a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle in preventing disease and in some cases reversing chronic disease, he says. “I now view what I eat as taking me towards or away from the health I want to enjoy,” he says. There are a couple of good reasons for a plant-based diet, Wayne says.
Firstly, that plants are packed with nutrients that nature provides in a whole form, and secondly that they are the only natural source of fibre and there is a major fibre deficiency in the western diet.
He says there is a misconception that by following a plant-based diet people will not get the protein they need.
“That is not the case at all,” he says. “Here is a question I sometimes ask: ‘where does your meat get its protein from?’”
Along with nutrition, Wayne says sleep, exercise, rest and building stronger relationships are all factors that improve overall health and contribute to wellness. The response to the movie screening and discussion was exciting, he says.
There is an increasing awareness of the benefits that changes to lifestyle and nutrition can bring, he says, with a lot of diseases heavily influenced by those.
“It’s exciting to see the interest of people in wanting to make those changes. There is certainly a greater awareness that we can’t go on the way we have been.” Documentary-maker Grant Dixon, who is behind The Big Fat Lie, says there is a growing discussion among medical doctors and other health professionals about whole food, plant-based eating because the science around it is so strong. “I only wish they’d told me before I had my heart attack.”
“There’s now a new paradigm that, if implemented, will revolutionise our health system, save the nation billions, give life back to tens of thousands, and turn around our appalling obesity, diabetic, heart disease and cancer rates. “Our most debilitating diseases can now not only be arrested, but in most cases reversed and cured.”